CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Chris Johnson scored 18 points and Dayton used a strong start to beat Illinois 77-71 in an NIT quarterfinal Wednesday night.
The third-seeded Flyers (23-12) advanced to play Mississippi on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. They also joined Rhode Island in the semifinals, giving the Atlantic 10 Conference two of the four teams remaining in the tournament.
Dayton jumped out to a 23-9 lead behind excellent shooting and never let up. The Flyers shot 48.1 percent from the field, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range.
The Illini's struggles to get back on defense led to quick, easy baskets for Dayton.
Illinois trailed by as many as 16 points before cutting it to four with 18 seconds left.
Johnson was 4 for 11 from the field but 9 of 10 at the foul line.
Demetri McCamey had 13 points and 10 assists for No. 1 seed Illinois (21-15).